Thursday, November 12, 2015

Beware Of What Lurks Under The Bed

Under the bed, there is a large storage area. I had noticed that when the trailer was built, the platform was almost a foot shorter than the mattress. This was odd and done for no good reason that I could see. This also left the end of the mattress unsupported. It had begun to sag. I added an 11 inch strip to the end of the platform to give it the extra length it needed. This was better, but it I were to sit on the end of the bed to take off my shoes, it could break off. I grabbed some 1/2 inch birch plywood and built a three sided support that butted into the existing storage box. I had some paint mixed that matches the wood grain finish. It has no grain, but it barely shows and isn't noticeable. We now have a full length, fully supported bed platform with an additional 6 or 7 cubic feet of storage

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Taking Wings

Another sore point in our trailer is the lack of counter space in the kitchen area. There is barely enough room to make a sandwich on the existing counter. I had a good sized hunk of matching counter top left over from the outdoor kitchen. I cut it down, rounded the corners and attached it with another length of piano hinge. I made up a sliding brace with a knob to lock it in position. We now have a very useable counter where we can prepare food, stack dishes before we wash them, etc. I still had the original pull out counter from the outside kitchen, so I made an extension for the dinette table. We have found that with the coffee maker and the toaster on the table, room for our table settings and pots pans and bowls was very tight. The new wing will give us all the room we need and easily slides out of the way when not in use.Excuse the dust and the lack of edge molding. They will be addressed, later

Stepping Up

While working on the trailer, I realized that there is a good sized void under the steps that lead to the bedroom. After removing the treads. I wondered what I could do with the extra space. I always pack a toolbox whenever we venture out. I toss it in the bed of the truck. So far, nobody has ripped me off. Rather than temping fate any longer, I whipped up a tool tote that fits into the space under the first step. Safe and secure yet easy to get to. The area under the second step is empty, right now, but I'm sure we will find a use for it. The treads were originally screwed down. I made some metal clips that they slide under to keep them from flipping up if we step too close to the nose of the step. I don't know why the RV manufacturers don't make use of this wasted storage space.Perhaps it takes the visionary talents of a Boy Genius™.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bringing Up The Rear

In my further efforts to make our trailer more suited to our needs, I attacked the rear end. As with most newer RVs, ours has an outdoor shower. Now, I typically eschew outdoor bathing but I have found that the shower is very handy for washing my dutch ovens and other large items. The bumper provided a small, wobbly spot to set the pots while I tried to clean them. So, I got to work and made up this shelf to serve as a wash station. I used some one inch by 1/8 steel angle iron, some expanded mesh and some 10 gauge sheet for the legs. I welded two brackets to the bumper to bolt it to. I sent it out to be powder coated in a gray color to match the trailer paint scheme. We bought a Honda generator to power us up when we are away from shore power. I stored it in the compartment under the bedroom. After lifting it in and out a number of times, I realized that it was a giant pain. Also, the chances of me wrenching my back, at some point, were almost 100%. I built this box to house it while we travel. It was made from the same materials as the wash station. I made up a 3/4 inch steel bar that passes through the handle of the generator and is secured with a padlock to ward off thieves. It was bolted to the bumper in the same fashion as the shelf. The bolts were tacked with weld so they can't be unscrewed by the less honest who live among us. It was, also, powder coated.

Now We're Cookin'

One of the things that sold me on our new trailer was the outdoor kitchen. I claimed it as my traveling Man Cave. There were a few things that didn't suit me, however. The little dorm fridge was fastened to the counter with a couple of cheesy brackets, screwed into the counter. On our first trip out, they pulled out of the counter. I drilled holes and bolted it in securely. This left two, gnarly, torn out holes in the Formica. I decided to replace the entire top. Much better. During the installation, I noticed a large void between the sink and the front of the cabinetry. I built a little cubby to hold odds and ends. I will make a flip down door for it as soon as I get some wood to match the drawer that I had previously added for utensils. I also put up a wire basket next to the microwave. There is a pull out counter that extends about 18 inches. It is very handy. After looking at it, I realized that I could add a folding wing and end up with a, nearly, three foot long working area. It will really make food prep much easier. I will make a prop that braces it back to the trailer frame so it will support my cast iron Dutch ovens. Lastly, The light inside the galley provides little in the way of illumination, so I installed a light on the inside of the door. Perfect. I can see much better now. While I was in the mood, I installed some FRP panels around the inside stove top. It will make cleanup much easier. The wallpaper and wood paneling wouldn't last long after cleaning off grease splatter a few times so this will make Wifey happy. Her ultimate goal is to never use the stove top for anything other than boiling water

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

On The Road Again

After an eleven day wait, the new axle assembly arrived in Grant's Pass from Elkhart, Indiana. Installation was pretty easy. The entire job took about an hour. Finally, we were on our way. The remainder of the trip was pretty uneventful. We spent a couple of days in Salem with my cousin and headed to Idaho. Spent to nights in Glenn's Ferry, on the Snake River. Very pretty but there were tons of flies.Then it was off to Bryce Canyon, one of our favorite spots. We spent five days there. Always beautiful. We then drove to Zion. Unfortunately it was packed, mostly with Europeans on vacation. That and a weekend music festival had the place looking like Disneyland. So, we left and went to Lake Mead. Two days there was more than enough. Hot, desolate, mostly abandoned. You can have the place. We spent the last day and a half in as Vegas at a friend's place. Had a good Vegas buffet dinner and drove home. In all, we had a good time. Not the trip we signed up for but pretty good anyway

Monday, August 31, 2015

You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me, Loose Wheel

Lady LaFong and I decided that it was time to get out on the road for a month. After a few days with old friends in Northern California, we headed north into Oregon. Stopping at the first big town, Medford, Oregon, we decided to stop and pick up a few items at the big box supermarket. Upon pulling out of our parking spot, I heard a minor thump. Looking out the window, I was greeted with the sight of a wheel passing me by. I hopped out to find that one of the wheels on our, nearly new, fifth wheel trailer had said, "Buh Bye" to the axle. The hub, brake assembly, bearings and the axle were ground into a fine red rusty powder. The trailer has, perhaps, 2-2500 miles on it. We limped on three wheels to Grant's Pass, where I have family. After setting up in a small RV park, I contacted the manufacturer. They referred me to the axle manufacturer. As it stands, at this point,we are waiting for a new axle to arrive from Elkhart, Indiana in a week. Installation will be my responsibility. I can deal with that. I have tools, help and a place to work. It isn't an especially difficult task. Eight nuts and four wires and we'll be good to go................I hope. I checked the other three wheels and they all seemed good and full of grease. I pumped in some additional lube just to be sure. The bad axle had no signs of any grease whatsoever. I really think it was never lubed at the factory. Live and learn, I suppose. The only upside is, that it happened at 3 mph rather than on the highway where it might have been a bit more spectacular. Also, Grant's Pass is a better spot to break down than Barstow, Lodi, Compton or Stockton

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Beat The Drum Slowly

Here is a drum thickness sander that I built 6 or 7 years ago. The base in an old desk that I salvaged while dumpster diving at work. Most of the remaining skeleton is 1 1/2 inch steel tube and a few pieces of 1/8 flat plate. The motor is one that I had laying in my motor pile. I bought two 3/4 inch ball bearing pillow blocks for each end of the drum assembly. The drum is a stack of 3/4 plywood discs on a 3/4 inch CRS shaft. I assembled all of the discs on the shaft with glue between each one. After it dried, I drilled and pinned the drum to the shaft. I trued up the drum on my metal lathe, though I could have used the sander as it's own lathe by rigging up a tool rest. The finished size is a sliding fit into a piece of 4 inch ABS sewer pipe. The sandpaper strips are glued to the ABS with contact adhesive. A pin at the pulley end of the drum registers with a notch in the pipe to keep it from spinning. The notch is angled in the direction of rotation to keep it from coming off. I have several of these drums made up with different grit strips glued on. Changing them requires removing two bolts and pulling off the pillow block on the free end. The drum is 24 inches long and with the open end, it has a four foot capacity. The bed assembly is 3/4 MDF and 3/4 plywood. The hood is 1/8 Masonite. The bed is raised and lowered with the crank handle which pushes or pulls on a carriage with four wheels. The two outer wheels ride on tracks that are parallel with each other and the floor. The inner wheels ride against triangular members that are screwed to the bottom of the bed. As the wheels travel in or out, against the triangles, the bed goes up or down. These pieces all needed to be exactly the same as each other and exactly coplanar. I managed to get pretty darned close. Any variance from left to right was adjusted with shims under the pillow blocks. I had envisioned some sort of feed mechanism but never got around to it. I think if I could get my hands on a belt from a large, wide belt sander, I could rig up a feed. Probably would be hand cranked rather than power feed. As it is now, I use a push board, as pictured. Though I don't use it often, It has proven to be a pretty good tool.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Another Of My Many Hangups

I knocked out this tool board to keep my lathe chisels off of the floor, where I kept then in a plastic bucket. It's just a scrap of 3/4 oak plywood, edge with some pine with two magnetic strips that I got from Harbor Freight. I added some cleats to keep the tools from sliding off. I put on a coat of Danish oil and a few layers of clear, just so it looks nice and matches the lathe.The edging is the trademark red. All that remains to complete the turning station is a lamp, over the lathe, so I can see what I'm ruining

Monday, August 10, 2015

All Work And No Play Makes Carl A Dull Boy

I have accumulated quite a collection of dull cutting tools. My attempts to sharpen them have been less than stellar. It requires a steady hand to maintain the proper angle on chisels and plane irons. After a search, online, for some sort of jig, I found one that seemed decent. I did have to purchase the plans to build it but they were only a few bucks. I made it from scrap lying about the shop, in a couple of hours. It is adjustable for setting the angle of the bevel and it is no problem to add a few degrees after the initial sharpening to put a micro bevel on the end. I sharpened three of my planes and three or four chisels. It took a while because they were all very dull, nicked and poorly sharpened, previously. They all turned out quite sharp. The planes will now take off very thin shavings and the chisels will pare the end grain of oak and maple very cleanly. Another cheap and easy fix for an ongoing problem of mine.

Friday, July 31, 2015


I officially pronounce the lathe, done. I made a knob for the spindle lock, a shelf for the right pedestal, tuned up the tail stock height, put a bend in the tool rest to get it closer to the center line and finished the lid for the sandbox. I added 150 pounds of sand. The ballast really makes it solid and it runs very smooth and quiet. I want to get a good sized piece of burl or crotch wood and try to turn a fancy bowl. We are taking an RV vacation in a few weeks so I am going to keep my eyes open for some local wood. I still need some sort of holder for my chisels. I'll have to find something that I like and that also matches the machine.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pick Up Yer Room, Kid

An old friend asked if I could use a roll away box and top chest as he is paring down. I, on the other hand am a tool junkie, so the answer was, "Of course." What I ended up with is a generic lower with two drawers and a large bin and an old Snap-On, five drawer, machinists chest. I already have a roll away with an intermediate and a top chest for my mechanics tools. I wanted to better organize some of my woodworking tools. Once I got it home, I lined all of the drawers with rubber liner. I put all of my planes on top and most of the oft used tools in the drawers. I am not very organized and many of my tools have no home so they lie about wherever I used them last. Hopefully I can break some old, bad habits and put things away when I'm done with them. One can only hope.

One Good Turn

Today, I was able to turn the machine on and make a test cut. I haven't added the sand ballast yet, so I thought there would be a lot of vibration. It runs pretty smooth as is. With the ballast it should be rock solid. One thing that I discovered was that the tool rest needs some fine tuning. I am not able to get it close enough to the work when doing smaller diameter turnings. I will bend an offset on the steel rest or make another, if I have enough 3/4 bar stock. I am sure I will be making additional rests, as time goes on, for bowls and other special jobs. As it is, I am quite pleased with the lathe. Tomorrow, I will finish the cover for the sand box with some oak trim and fill it with sand. First, I have to clear out a semi permanent home for it as it will be too heavy to move with the ballast. I still have to make the spindle lock but I am waiting to see how well the wooden handles work on the tail stock lock and the tool rest. I've cinched them down pretty good and there doesn't seem to be any danger of them breaking. The handle that I made to lock the tool rest to the bed proved to be too bulky. It was clumsy and the long handle made it very hard to  adjust the rest and lock it down. I replaced it with a large knob. I made it by taking a piece of oak and scribing a circle. I laid out for 8 holes on the outer edge. Using a 3/4 hole saw, I cut the holes. The blank was rough cut on the band saw by cutting from the center of one hole to the next. I put it between centers on the small lathe and formed it to the finished shape. I whacked the handle off of the old lock down and glued the knob to the remaining stub. Much better. While I was at it, I made two brass strips for the tool rest base so it doesn't get scarred up. The brass against the oak really looks nice. I wish I had bought brass for the ways after seeing how pretty it looks. My anal self says, "Do it." My practical self says, "It looks fine, leave it alone."

The Wrong Way

I have been focusing on the lathe for the past few days. I have finished all of the fabrication. I stained the oak pieces and sprayed them with 3 or 4 coats of clear. It really is starting to look nice. Too nice. At the beginning, I doubted the wooden ways. I felt that as I slid the tail stock back and forth, the finish would get ruined. I know it is a machine and a tool, but I still want it to look nice. I went to the metal supply and bought some 1/8 X 2 inch cold rolled flat steel. After cutting two pieces to length, I drilled and countersunk a series of holes in them. I screwed them to the ways with flat head screws. Two short pieces were also prepared in the same manner and screwed to the underside of the tail stock. That portion had to be cut down 1/4 inch to make up for the steel ways. It slides very nicely now and the centers are in almost perfect alignment. I think it gives the lathe a more professional look and my finish is protected from scuffs and scratches. Just a few more loose ends to attend to and it will be done

Monday, July 27, 2015

Playing In The Sandbox

It's been a while since I've done any work on the wood lathe. Today I got back on it. I hope to have it done in the next few days. As I said before, the plans called for filling the two bases with sand to give it some weight and to dampen vibration. Of course, I didn't like that idea. Instead I built this box that I bolted to the pedestals. I will fill it with sand after the project is done. I, also, made a lid that will serve as a shelf. I disassembled everything and began to apply the golden oak oil to the hardwood pieces. Once all the pieces have the oil applied, I will spray them with semi gloss clear. The tail end of the bed got a piece of oak, cut to shape, to finish off the bare plywood. After that, all that should remain is to re assemble it and give it a test turning.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tails, I Win

I finally found a few extra dollars, so I made up the tail stock assembly. Like the headstock, it is made of laminated red oak. I deviated from the plans again. They called for the 1-8 TPI nut to be epoxied into a hex shaped recess. I cut the hex shaped recess with a chisel 1/8 inch deeper than the thickness of the nut. I then cut a circular piece of 1/8 CRS with a hole saw. I also cut a 1 inch hole in the center with a hole saw as well. this will retain the nut in the recess, rather than the epoxy. Using a router and a plywood pattern, I cut a 1/8 inch deep recess for the steel retainer. I drilled and countersunk 4 hole and attached it to the tail stock with flathead screws. I put a similar piece on the opposite side to give the spindle a rudimentary bearing surface. The spindle turns very easily and smooth. I then drilled a vertical hole down through the tailstock for the clamping screw. I made another handle, like the one on the tool rest, and epoxied a long, coupling nut in it. This screws into a piece of all thread that, in turn, threads into a clamping block, again, similar to the one for the tool rest. A quick turn of the handle locks the tail stock securely. A 3/8 inch hole was drilled, horizontally, through the tail stock for the spindle lock. I enlarged the first inch of the hole to 1/2 inch and drove in a 3/8 coupling nut. A large washer was recessed flush with the surface to keep the nut from pulling out when the spindle is locked.  All that remains is to procure a belt, stain and spray a finish on the oak and weigh it down. The plans call for filling the pedestals with sand to give the machine stability and to minimize vibration. Of course, I don't care for this idea. I have a better one, but you'll have to stay tuned until next time

Monday, June 8, 2015

Jose's Casita

We're getting ready for a rod trip very soon. We will hook up the trailer an head north, for a while. I have to visit some family in Oregon that I haven't seen in years. Then we will just wander for 3 or 4 weeks. Since I do most (all) of the cooking on these adventures, I decided that I need a spice cabinet of my own. First, I ordered 15 little Mason Jars from Amazon. They turned out to be perfect for what I envisioned. I laid them out and began to figure out how to arrange them. Five rows of three jars worked best. I assembled a box from some left over oak in the scrap bin. I finger jointed the corners and rabbeted in the front and back panels. The shelves are Masonite with oak faces. While I was feeling creative, I whittled out a spoon from some mahogany, made another bottle opener from some unknown hardwood and stuck them and the knife, that I made in an earlier post, in the lid. I applied a picture to the outside of the lid, the same way as I did with the ukulele case. While all of this was going on, I felt that my friend, Jose Cuervo, needed a place to live. What could be more suitable than with all the spices? Cooking is hard work and, sometimes, a little poquito of Jose helps you to relax and free up the creative juices. Tequila Sunrise for breakfast and a Margarita in the evening. Yeah!!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day and Family Treasures

I finished this today, one day late for Mother's Day. There is a back story, of course. Years ago, when I was, maybe 9 or 10 years old, my mother announced that she was getting "The Spice Rack". She was very excited. It seems the rack belonged to an aunt and Mom was promised that it would go to her upon the aunts passing. When she brought it home, my dad mounted it to the kitchen wall, where it hung until 1971. That's when the story takes a tragic turn. 1971 was the year of the Sylmar earthquake. The spice rack did not fare well. Most of the jars fell and were shattered into hundreds of pieces. Mom was devastated. She had only a few prized possessions and it was, probably, at the top of the list. When she died in 1996, I was given many of her belongings. I didn't realize that a few jars survived. She had, carefully, wrapped them up and put them in a box. Now we fast forward to the 21st Century. I was able to go online and after several years of searching, I found a few, matching, jars. I now had enough to arrange them in a symmetrical, balanced display. Originally, there were quite a few more jars, perhaps 10 or 12 of the large ones and 16 or 18 of the small ones. Knowing that finding more was going to be difficult, I used what I had. Some, notably, the oil and vinegar bottles are chipped. I'll think of them as battle scars. I made up this shelf to display them. They will also hang in our kitchen. This time, I will use liberal amounts of museum putty to secure them to the shelf so, when the "Big One" hits, they will stand a chance of surviving. I wish I had been able to do this while she was still alive but I'm sure she would love it

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rocket Science

My grand daughter had a birthday recently. Of course, there were balloons everywhere. I noticed the empty helium tank and thought it was  a waste to toss it out. I know that it, probably, gets recycled, but I wondered if it could be repurposed. I got on line and saw these rocket stoves. They can be made from old cans, propane tanks and so forth. So, I got to work. I cut  a hole in the top, where the valve was and another on the side. I took a piece of exhaust tubing from the scrap pile and cut it in half at a 45 degree angle I welded the two pieces back together so theye mad a 90 degree turn. I stuck it into the tank so one end came through the hole on the side and the other end poked up through the hole on top. I welded the tube to the tank at the side opening. Before welding the top closed, the tank was filled with vermiculite. This insulates the stove and keeps as much of the heat as possible in the firebox and the chimney. I made up a little, square grille to hole the pot or pan and three legs to support it. The horizontal tube is the fire box. A small sheet metal divider was cut and inserted in the tube. The wood sits on this divider. As it burns, air is drawn in through the bottom of the tube, under the divider and the heat pulls the flame up through the chimney. I fired it up and was able to fry an egg with it. I find that lighter wood, like pine, seems to work better that slower burning hardwood. It's nothing that you can just light and walk away from. Fuel needs to be added often, but it works pretty well. Just another, quicky, project that I threw together because I was bored and broke. As soon as I scrape up a few bucks, I'll finish the wood lathe

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Time For A Rest

Next, I need a tool rest. I deviated from the plans again. The original plans assume that the builder has no metal working tools. I do. It called for an assemblage of various pipe fittings and other, store bought, hardware. I knew that it would look hokey and homebrewed, so I devised my own rest. The base was made from two pieces of oak, laminated together, much the same as directed in the book. After that, I was off on my own. I machined a collar from some aluminum that I had in the scrap bin. It was drilled and tapped and attached to the base with 1/4 inch screws. It was bored through to 3/4 inch. Another hole was drilled through the side and tapped for the locking screw which I added a little, turned handle to. The tool rest itself is simply two pieces of 3/4 inch cold rolled welded into a "T" shape. I can always make up a new rest for different situations. I'm sure this one will do for 99% of all the turning that I will do. I made up another handle on my small lathe to lock down the rest assembly to the lathe bed. The original plan called for a wooden hand wheel but I thought this will work just as well. Also, I have a hand wheel, in my junk bin, that I will use for the tail stock and I don't want a mismatched set

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Visible Mean Of Support

I finished up the pedestals, that support the lathe, today. They are made of 3/4 inch particle board. I was going to use MDF, but the other stuff is cheaper and once it's painted it will look just as good. Both of them are identical. I went ahead and primed them and the guard. I then put on two coats of the same red paint that I used on my router table and my planer/spindle sander cart. The right side will have a shelf for storage, the left will house the motor. Next, I have to build the motor mount system and hang the doors. I also went ahead and cut the threads on the left end of the spindle. It's really beginning to look like a machine now.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Making Headway

I've just about finished the headstock. It was made up from eight pieces of oak laminated together. I deviated a bit from the plans in the book. I decided to thread both ends of the spindle. The left end has yet to be threaded. I have to wait until I'm in final mockup, so I can determine the length of the threads. The reason for this is, if I ever want to turn a large bowl or platter, that exceeds the capacity over the ways, I can put a faceplate on the other end and set up a portable tool rest. Since the threads are right handed, I'll have to lock the faceplate onto the spindle with a set screw so it doesn't spin itself off. I did find that I cut the spindle a tad short and didn't allow enough for the threads. To get the additional length, that I need, I recessed both of the flange bearings into the headstock. It gives it a more custom look, which I like. At the same time as was doing this, I glued the ways to each other with the laminated plywood spacers in between. Everything came out nice and even with no ugly gaps. Next, I think I'll make the pedestals that serve as the base for the machine. It's cut from one sheet of MDF or particle board. I'll do the tailstock last. I blew the budget on the headstock lumber. It took ten feet of  3/4 x 8 red oak. It ran 55 bucks. I will need a similar amount for the tailstock. All that will remain, after that, is some electrical cord, a V belt, a quart of red paint and some assorted hardware

En Garde

I though I'd make something cheap, so I made a belt guard for the lathe. It's made from scrap plywood and some Masonite that I had in the shop. I didn't follow the plans in the book for this part since I would have had to buy some more material. Still trying to do this on a budget and still end up with an attractive machine.  I laminated some plywood squares together  and cut out the upper and lower curved portions on the band saw. I notched each piece at the ends of the legs to recess the Masonite sides into. The inside was brought up flush with some 1/2 inch plywood strips. Another piece of Masonite was cut and glued to the assembly to form the front of the guard. I used my trim router to cut it flush with the sides. A hole was drilled so the spindle will stick through. Once everything it sanded smooth and even, I'll fill the plywood edge grain with plastic body filler. I cut a little sheet metal clip to hold it onto the headstock. Once the machine is mounted to the pedestals, I'll make up some sort of clip to hold it at the bottom .